EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 8, 2014

Column: Don't nod off, it's time for the Winter Olympics

It is not my intention to spoil your fun, but as claimant to the title of America’s curmudgeon-in-chief, vacant since the passing of Andy Rooney, this is what I think about the Winter Olympics: The arrival of the Games is about as much fun as waking up on a cold morning and facing the prospect of getting out of bed.

Do we really have to? Yes, we have to. There’s no getting around it. The world’s media will have their feelings hurt if we don’t get with the program.

Every four years it is the same: We are reintroduced to athletic celebrities who, with some exceptions, have been celebrated more or less in private since we last made their acquaintance. They now pop up again like Punxsutawney Phil, the meteorologist groundhog, only this time predicting six more days of ice dancing.

As they often have to hurtle down mountains at 90 mph for their 10 minutes of fame, I can’t say I begrudge them.

No, my problem is the lingering suspicion that the Winter Games are a sort of made-up, compensatory affair. They are like Take Your Daughter to Work Day becoming Take Your Child to Work Day. You have to include everybody or others will feel left out.

No doubt winter athletes were suitably frosted that it took 28 years for a winter version of the Games to appear after the Summer Games were revived in Athens in 1896. The Winter Games would have come as a surprise to the ancient Greeks, who competed in the nude. True, this tradition isn’t honored today, although women’s beach volleyball is doing its best.

That doesn’t change the fact the ancient ones knew better than to compete in the snow, understandable given that being naked involves the risk of frostbite in unusually sensitive places.

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